Gillian Anderson: still at home in X-Files land

Doggett Pursuit of the Truth

It's a new season of The X-Files, but in case you thought you'd seen it before, here's someone you haven't. Simon Bacal went to tea (2000) with Robert Patrick

Excerpts selected from Xposé #51

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Aliens have abducted FBI Agent Fox Mulder, Scully is pregnant and a new agent is brought in to lead the task force assigned to track down Mulder. That's the premise of Fox Television's The X-Files as the hit series begins its eighth season in early November. By now, it's no secret that Robert Patrick - alias the very deadly shape-shifting terminator, sent from the future to raise havoc in director James Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgment Day - has been cast as the new partner of FBI agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). A long-time fan of the show, Patrick, who plays FBI special agent John Doggett, was brought onto the series after Mulder's real-life alter ego David Duchovny signed on to appear in 11 of the new season's 20 episodes.

"Doggett is an ex-marine and former New York City police detective," says Patrick. "And he's a well-respected FBI insider who's on the fast track - male and female agents perceive him as a leader. This guy also works extremely hard. When other people want to stop working on a case, he'll still press ahead to reach the resolution. John risks his relationship with Scully when he first meets her. Basically, he lies to Scully and she catches him in the act. At first sight, Scully doesn't like this guy too much since his style is somewhat aggressive - he's willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve an end result. However, her respect for Doggett grows, and she eventually appreciates him and his approach to cases."

Whereas Mulder is a die-hard believer in aliens and paranormal activity, the latest addition to The X-Files' world remains a skeptic. Meanwhile, Scully, formerly a solid non-believer, is more open to the possibilities of otherworldly forces.

"She's a partial believer," says Patrick, "because she's carrying Mulder's torch. Scully wants to continue his work and solve the mysteries surrounding The X-Files. "She's still somewhat skeptical, but takes on Mulder's point of view and feels a real need to do something."

Patrick recalls that his first scene, which involved his character's aforementioned introductory meeting with Scully, was more than a tad nerve-racking.

"As I was walking [on set] to do this, I thought 'My God, here we go - I've got to deliver. Let's hope I have a good day.' But once we got into the scene I calmed down, and the whole thing became no different from any other job. I'm very happy with the sequence because it's extremely interesting and dramatic."

Patrick's venture into the X-Files universe has required the actor - whose background is largely in film - to work with a rigorous shooting schedule.

"We shoot a lot of pages each day, so I don't spend too much time with dialogue," says the actor, who often shoots 13-hour days. "I simply trust my choices and instincts, jump right into the sequence and hope for the best. I just want to focus on this show, concentrate on my character and deliver the best work possible. For 16 years I've been bouncing from gig to gig to gig. I've always worked 10 months out of the year, but I now know what I'm doing for the next nine months. I love acting - so this show is a wonderful job because I act every single day."

Robert Patrick talks about his previous career including Terminator 2 & the Faculty in Xposé #51

Photos © Twentieth-Centrury Fox 2000
Feature © Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction